Comments Off on College admissions scandal ‘reinforces the craziness of whole game,’ experts say

A view down High Street on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut, with Harkness Tower at left and Linsly-Chittenden Hall at right. Dwight Hall lies beyond Linsly-Chittenden; both are part of the Old Campus quad.
less

A view down High Street on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut, with Harkness Tower at left and Linsly-Chittenden Hall at right. Dwight Hall lies beyond Linsly-Chittenden; both are part of the
… more

Photo: Ed Stannard / Hearst Connecticut Media

Photo: Ed Stannard / Hearst Connecticut Media

A view down High Street on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut, with Harkness Tower at left and Linsly-Chittenden Hall at right. Dwight Hall lies beyond Linsly-Chittenden; both are part of the Old Campus quad.
less

A view down High Street on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut, with Harkness Tower at left and Linsly-Chittenden Hall at right. Dwight Hall lies beyond Linsly-Chittenden; both are part of the
… more

Photo: Ed Stannard / Hearst Connecticut Media

College admissions scandal ‘reinforces the craziness of whole game,’ experts say

To some, a still-evolving scandal involving bribes and cheating to get into some of the nation’s most elite colleges, such as Yale, is indicative of what the college selection and admission process has become.

“It reinforces the craziness of this whole game, I am disgusted by it,” said Vanessa Monton, director of pupil services and counseling at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.

She and others said they were stunned to learn of what appears to be a nationwide conspiracy involving NCAA Division I coaches, entrance exam cheating and even Hollywood actresses — yet not entirely surprised.

“People will go to great lengths,” to get their kid in a brand name school, said state Sen James Maroney, D-Milford, who owns First Choice College, a college advising and test prep company.

Over the past 20 years, Maroney said he has seen the college selection process become more competitive and stressful even though he will tell students there are plenty of higher education institutions where one can get a great education.

In all, 50 people were charged Tuesday with bribery and fraud, according to documents unsealed in federal court in Boston. Prosecutors state an admissions consultant made millions helping rich parents get their kids into elite colleges and universities by cheating on college entrance exams or getting recruited as athletes for sports they don’t play.

Janet Rosier, a certified education planner and college admissions consultant in Fairfield, was at the hairdresser’s on Tuesday when her cell phone started ringing with the news.

“I am still reeling,” Rosier said. “The depth and breadth of this scheme to get their children admitted to elite colleges is astounding and beyond anything I could have imagined families would do. This is not just unethical behavior — it is criminal behavior.”

She wonders how widespread the scandal is.

Every year, the most competitive colleges — such as Yale — report record numbers of applications and correspondingly lower admissions rates. The number of applications students send out to schools is multiplying with the advent of universal applications.

“Many students and their parents feel that if they could just get into one of these universities, it will make all the difference in their lives,” Rosier said.

Cheating their way in, she said, reinforces the idea the odds are stacked against those who play by the rules.

Davin Sweeney, director of college counseling for the metro New York region of Collegewise, a company that helps families with the college application process, said if he had to guess, it all boils down to some parents being willing to pay for guaranteed admissions. A big donation doesn’t always do the trick. They take a “side door,” he said.

College admission officers, Sweeney said, scrutinize applications to make sure students are who they say they are.

“I tell students they should never be about anything other than accurate as to who they are,” Sweeney said.

For its part, the College Board, which produces the SAT, released a statement Tuesday saying it is working with law enforcement officials on this and similar cases.

“Today’s arrests resulting from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts send a clear message that those who facilitate cheating on the SAT — regardless of their income or status — will be held accountable,” said Jaslee Carayol, a College Board spokeswoman. “The College Board has a comprehensive, robust approach to combat cheating, and we work closely with law enforcement as part of those efforts. We will always take all necessary steps to ensure a level playing field for the overwhelming majority of test takers who are honest and play by the rules.”

But high school counselors such as Caryn Campbell, the director of pupil services and counseling at Fairfield Warde High School, are worried about how many more steps the SAT can put into place to make sure the test is secure.

“The security and precautions we have to go through is incredible,” Campbell said.

What doesn’t surprise Campbell is the pressure put on her students to get high grade-point averages and test scores.

“I wish more of them thought outside the box,” she said. “Everyone has this narrow vision of what college is.”

It’s more than Ivy League, she said.

Monton, her counterpart at Ludlowe, agrees. She tries to get students to balance Advanced Placement courses with extracurricular activities.

“They are all caught up with the brand name,” she said. “It reinforces this race to nowhere and it is sad to see kids emotionally struggle with the stresses put on them.”

[email protected]; twitter/lclambeck

Comments are closed.